Congressional Watchdog: Trump’s Top Two DHS Officials Were Not Appointed Legally

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf.Screengrab / U.S. Customs and Border Protection / YouTube

JakeThomas

The Government Accountability Office said the appointments of DHS's top two officials violated the Vacancies Reform Act.

The Government Accountability Office said Friday that the appointments of President Trump’s top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security violated federal law, according to The Washington Post.

  • The Post reported that “GAO, which is an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, said that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli are serving under an invalid order of succession under the Vacancies Reform Act.”
  • The act “governs how temporary appointments can be made to positions that require Senate confirmation,” the report noted, adding that “President Trump has repeatedly circumvented the Senate confirmation process by placing people in acting positions -- including Wolf and Cuccinnelli, whose official title is Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.”
  • According to GAO, Wolf and Cuccinnelli’s appointments violated the act due to the sequence of events following former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation: “The official who assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, Kevin McAleenan, had not been designated in the order of succession, GAO said.”
  • The agency concluded that subsequent appointments were also invalid, saying that Wolf and Cuccinnelli “are serving under an invalid order of succession.”
  • The Post reported that “GAO said it was referring the matter to the DHS inspector general for reviews, and that any further actions would be up to Congress and the IG.”

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